By: Blakely Fraasch, Content Creator Intern
Though many recent college graduates and experienced professionals find purpose in their careers by working for socially-conscious companies, others CREATE purpose by starting their own venture. Our blog post “Using Your College Degree To Engage In Social Entrepreneurship” shows you how to apply any degree program towards social entrepreneurship, but SEED SPOT alum Neel Mehta goes above and beyond this week by demonstrating how to make a lasting impact in our local communities!
Who is Neel Mehta?
Passionate about improving the lives of others, Neel Mehta received his Master’s degree in Biomedical Informatics from Arizona State University. Initially, Neel believed that after earning his Master’s degree, he would get his PhD in Biomedical Informatics and eventually become a professor. That future changed when Neel decided to create his own purpose. Neel brainstormed ideas with the hopes of creating a start-up company and utilizing it as an outlet into social entrepreneurship. While assembling his team, he partnered with Robert Yao, a fellow innovator fixated on the difficulties of diagnosing epilepsy. After observing Robert’s complex algorithm for diagnosing patients with epilepsy, Neel and Robert took the research and built an app, thus setting the stage for EpiFinder.
Step #1: Identify Your Passions
Neel and Robert are passionate about making a difference in the lives of patients with epilepsy. To them, EpiFinder is not just a business venture, but also a way to bring about positive change in the lives of many. When Neel and Robert began work on their venture, they knew they needed to surround themselves with people who shared their passions. They started by recruiting a team of biomedical science, engineering, business, and computer science majors. Out of 120 applicants, 9 students were chosen to join the team based on their GPAs, accomplishments, AND their actual passion for the work and the patients whose lives they were changing. Neel and Robert agreed that people who are passionate about a cause will work harder to make a change for the better.
Step #2: Be the Solution Your Customers Need
EpiFinder’s mission? Stopping epilepsy misdiagnosis right at the source. According to the Epilepsy Foundation:
- Every 1 in 26 people are diagnosed with epilepsy.
- There are 50 different types of epilepsy.
- Over 200,000 cases are reported each year around the world.
- Of those cases nearly 40% will be misdiagnosed.
With the help of EpiFinder’s proprietary app software, neurologists now have in-depth information about epilepsy at their fingertips. Thanks to Neel and Robert, an initial diagnosis now takes less than five minutes. Neel and Robert’s passion and drive to create EpiFinder is helping patients understand their own disease and avoid the burden of being misdiagnosed. Neel and Robert’s success would have been impossible without their tireless dedication to their customers’ needs. They overcame obstacles by staying true to their mission and the people whose health depended on their findings.
Step #3: Leverage Your Network
Neel and Robert never underestimate the importance of leveraging their network and learning from others. After a last-minute application to SEED SPOT, Neel and Robert participated in the full-time program and cultivated their vision for EpiFinder’s long-term strategy. “We learned where to go, who to talk to, what to say, when to say it, and the importance of networking”, says Neel.
With SEED SPOT’s help, Neel and Robert acquired a portfolio of tools and resources to maximize EpiFinder’s impact. Their achievements have led Neel and Robert to win the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Award and be featured in Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”. Most recently, EpiFinder received the Spirit of Enterprise award by WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and Neel Mehta was recognized as 2017 AZ Business Leaders in Healthcare Innovation by AZ Big Media. In response to all this, Neel asserts that “without SEED SPOT, EpiFinder would not be where it is today”.
Step #4: Weather the Challenges
Every aspiring social entrepreneur will face challenges at some point. Neel says the best advice he ever got was to NEVER give up. Rationally understand that no idea or business is perfect, but the key is collaboration with others. Listen to advice and constantly improve upon your original idea. Know when to appreciate success, but never stop growing your idea’s potential!
Neel recommends to “balance satisfaction with what you’ve accomplished so far with a lack of fulfillment for what you want to do going forward”. Understanding this balance is key in overcoming limitations and focusing on the passions that kicked off your entrepreneurial journey.
Step #5: Make a Lasting Impact
With dedication and some insightful help from SEED SPOT, Neel and Robert’s idea has been able to make a positive impact on the lives of many. Neel and Robert have defined their destiny by bringing thorough epilepsy knowledge to neurologists across the nation and world. The company is now looking to expand its diagnostic capabilities to include other rare and difficult-to-diagnose neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. EpiFinder’s 18 staff members are changing the medical field as we know it, and this is just the beginning.
Start your entrepreneurial journey today.
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